Headline: "French Energy Sector Crippled by
Nationwide Strike... French energy facilities are close to total
disruption in the wake of nationwide strike against the raise of the
retirement age.....France has been hit by numerous protests across the
country against a controversial pension reform that would rise the
retirement age to 62 from 60....On October 22 morning 80 protesters
blockaded Grandpuits oil refinery outside Paris, key supplier for
Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airport." (The Financial)
Take note, Tea Party crybabies who moan about
restoring "our freedoms" while stuffing the backyard bunker with seed
corn and ammo. Glenn Beck won't save you from the "mean old" gov'mint.
Liberty isn't free anymore. If you want it, get out of the barko-lounger
and organize. The amount of freedom that any nation enjoys is directly
proportionate to the amount of blood its people spilled fighting the
state. No more, no less. The man who is willing to accept the blunt
force of a cop's truncheon on his back is infinitely more praiseworthy
than the leftist/rightist scribe crooning from the bleachers. The state
isn't moved by lyrical editorials or prosaic manifestos. It responds to
force alone, which is why it takes people who are willing to "throw
themselves on the gears" of the apparatus and stop it from moving
forward. Unfortunately, most of those people appear to live in France.
The resistance is steadily building in France. The budding rebellion is cropping up everywhere---"secondary schools, train stations, refineries and highways have been blockaded, there have been occupations of public buildings, workplaces, commercial centers, directed cuts of electricity, and ransacking of electoral institutions and town halls..." And the big unions are calling for more strikes, more agitation, more ferment.
For more than a week, transportation has been blocked across the France due to the protests by students and workers. Sarkozy's popularity has plummeted. 65% of people surveyed don't like the way the French president is handling the strikes. 79% of the people would like to see Sarkozy negotiate with the Union on terms and conditions, but he won't budge. Thus, the cauldron continues to boil while the prospect of violence rises.
"STRIKE, BLOCKADE, SABOTAGE"
This is from an anonymous striker:
"In each city, these actions are intensifying the power struggle and demonstrate that many are no longer satisfied with the order imposed by the union leadership. In the Paris region, amongst the blockades of train stations and secondary schools, the strikes in the primary schools, the workers pickets in front of the factories, people create inter-professional meetings and collectives of struggle are founded to destroy categorical isolation and separation. Their starting point: self-organization to meet the need to take ownership over our struggles without the mediation of those who claim to speak for workers.
We decided Saturday to occupy the Opera Bastille. This was to disturb a presentation that was live on radio, to play the trouble makers in a place where the cultural merchandise circulates and to organize an assembly there. So we met with more than a thousand people at the “place de la nation”, with banners stating “the bosses understand only one language: Strike, blockade, sabotage." (end of communique)
The action was met with predictable police violence and mass arrests.
The pension turmoil is not limited to France either. US pension funds are underfunded by nearly $3 trillion. Will US workers be as willing as their French counterparts to face the beatings (to defend "what's theirs") or will they throw up their hands and appeal to Obama for help?
There's no question that Washington elites have joined with Wall Street to offload the massive debts from the financial meltdown onto workers and retirees. Nor is their any doubt that they will invoke (what Slavoj Zizek calls) a "permanent state of economic emergency" to justify their actions. That will allow them to move ahead with so-called "austerity measures" that are designed to impoverish workers and strip popular government programs of their funding. The trend towards belt-tightening merely masks the ongoing class war which is aimed at restoring a feudal system of royalty and serfs. This is from an article by economist Mark Weisbrot:
"If the French want to keep the retirement age as is, there are plenty of ways to finance future pension costs without necessarily raising the retirement age. One of them, which has support among the French left – and which Sarkozy claims to support at the international level -- would be a tax on financial transactions. Such a “speculation tax” could raise billions of dollars of revenue – as it currently does in the U.K. – while simultaneously discouraging speculative trading in financial assets and derivatives. The French unions and protesters are demanding that the government consider some of these more progressive alternatives."
But the retirement age is not really the issue at all. This is about union busting and "putting people in their place." It's about "who will call-the-shots" and in whose interests will society be run.
The French are fighting back against this oligarchy of racketeers and the ripoff system they represent, while, namby-pamby Americans are placated by signing their umpteenth petition or venting their spleen at a Palin rally.
Vive la France. Vive la Résistance.